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Former Bosnian Serb army lieutenant-colonel Vujadin Popovic enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on Jan. 30, 2015.

MICHAEL KOOREN/Reuters

Appeals judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal have upheld genocide convictions against two senior Bosnian Serbs for their roles in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the first final judgment for genocide by the United Nations court.

Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara, convicted of the most serious offence in the war crimes statute, were high-ranking security officers with the Bosnian Serb army that overran Muslim forces and thinly armed UN troops in the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995 and subsequently murdered some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War.

A small part of both men's 2010 convictions was overturned in Friday's ruling, but presiding Judge Patrick Robinson reaffirmed their life sentences – the harshest punishment ever handed down by the court.

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